The chief executive of Bassetlaw Hospitals Trust has insisted Bassetlaw Hospital is “safe” amid fears for the site’s future.
Mike Pinkerton reassured the public that the cash-strapped hospital was also making “considerable progress” after falling into an £12m “financial blackhole” last year.
Concerns raised recently include rumoured cuts to children’s and maternity services as well as the closure of major units as a result of the hospital’s debts.
But Mr Pinkerton said: “In terms of the future, Bassetlaw Hospital is absolutely safe.
But medicine changes, staffing changes, patient demand changes and even disease changes. So we had to change our ways of working too- and it has been successful.
“We have predicted that this year we will save around £20m through an improved grip and control on our processes, and by using a new electronic system to record what we’re spending.”
But the £20m saving has not been possible without making some “touch decisions” said the chief executive, perhaps most controversially raising car park charges for patient visitors and staff by nearly 50 per cent.
Mr Pinkerton said: “We have not raised parking rates at the hospital since 2009, and the charges are in tandem with other hopsital Trusts across the country.
“Ticketing barriers, floodlights and car park security are costly and the charges ensure we can provide those things.
“But nobody wants to pay more to park, and we recognise that. We are currently consulting with staff about concessionary parking rates for lower-paid staff and students on placement here.”
The hospital has also come under fire for deciding to transfer some patients almost 20 miles to Doncaster Infirmary, including patients requiring emergency surgery.
“Around one or two Bassetlaw patients a day, who need urgent care, do get transferred to Doncaster Royal Infirmary due to staffing shortages,” said Mr Pinkerton.
“This is also down to the fact the expertise these patients require is usually found at Doncaster, which is a bigger hospital.
“We’ve found that patients have actually been quite positive about this because they’re willing to travel to a site where we can provide the best possibile care.
“We’ve managed to increase the number of elective surgical patients at Bassetlaw by introducing bariatric surgery and have further plans to reintroduce keyhole surgery at the hospital.”
The chief executive was keen to stress.
He revealed: “The safety of the Bassetlaw site is all the more confirmed with the fact we’ve been investing a lot into the hospital.
“These include £43K for the replacement of seven intensive treatment unit beds and the piloting of an Enhanced Care Team which provides specialist one-on-one car to patients with particular physical and mental needs.
“Most recently we announced we were investing £270K to enable the integration of all children’s services on the site, effectively creating a “mini” children’s hospital at Bassetlaw.
“Some may question this investment due to the fact that the hospital has been in debt. But we are perfectly entitled to spend up to £360m a year on our services and will do so as we see fit.”
Mr Pinkerton announced in August that he would be leaving the Trust at the end of the year, citing the fact he wants to spend more time with his family as the reason for his resignation.
When asked if he had found the role of chief executive challenging, he responded: “Of course it has been a challenge.
“We have 6,500 staff working across Bassetlaw and Doncaster, and umpteen sites to look after.
“But I am proud that we have done everything possible to keep our services safe and even made considerable progress.”